God the Companion

‎’As the Christian sees things, God does not stand idly by, cooly observing the suffering of His creatures. He enters into and shares our suffering. He endures the anguish of seeing his son, the second person of the Trinity, consigned to the bitterly cruel and shameful death of the cross. Some theologians claim that God cannot suffer. I believe they are wrong. God’s capacity for suffering, I believe, is proportional to his greatness; it exceeds our capacity for suffering in the same measure as his capacity for knowledge exceeds ours. Christ was prepared to endure the agonies of hell itself; and God, the Lord of the universe, was prepared to endure the suffering consequent upon his son’s humiliation and death. He was prepared to accept this suffering in order to overcome sin, and death, and the evils that afflict our world, and to confer on us a life more glorious than we can imagine. So we don’t know why God permits evil; we do know, however, that He was prepared to suffer on our behalf, to accept suffering of which we can form no conception.’
– Alvin Plantinga (“Self-Profile,” Alvin Plantinga, ed. Jas. Tomberlin (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1985), p. 36.)

Jehovah is a god who is willing to share in the suffering of His people. This is certainly one of the foundational thoughts of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Our suffering is God’s suffering – what a magnificent thought. But not only does God suffer with us as an onlooker from afar sad that His creation is going awry –  He existentially shares our suffering with us.

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